Tag Archives: National Statement on Religious Diversity

Religion in the public square

Or do I mean irreligion in the public square? Same thing really.

I refer to the open discussion of religious ideas in the “public square.” That means ideas can be put up for consideration and subjected to open support or criticism. The same as our ideas on politics and sport. I am using the dictionary, not literal, definition of “public square” as “relating to or concerning the people at large or all members of a community.”

Don’t we already do that? Yes, I agree. But some people are unhappy about it. There is an idea around that religion doesn’t get a fair go. That it should be able to promote its claims and ideas without being subjected to criticism. The United Nations has passed a resolution against the “defamation of religion”. Ireland has reintroduced a blasphemy law. You get the picture.

militant atheists

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Another chance to ignore our true religious diversity

nz-religious-diversity-bookI have written about New Zealand’s National Statement on Religious Diversity before. In fact, the problem of the discussion and formulation of this document was one of my initial incentives to start this blog (see Religious diversity includes “non-believers”).

This statement was prepared under the sponsorship of the NZ Human Rights Commission. The working group was composed of only representatives of religions and submissions from the non-religious (about one third of our population) were ignored. The final document almost completely ignores the existence of the non-religious. (For example artice 3: “THE RIGHT TO SAFETY. Faith communities and their members have a right to safety and security”).

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Compassion

Karen ArmstrongI have aways liked the description of a humanist outlook as one based on evidence, reason and compassion. The compassion is particularly important because, as humans, we need more than just to know the world. We also need a way of relating to each other and to other species. I think that compassion is an inherent quality of humanity – and probably of many other species.

Compassion is not dependent on specific political, religious or philosophical beliefs. In fact, a world view that argued otherwise would, by definition, not be compassionate. How could you be compassionate if you deny this attitude to other humans?

Yet this exclusive approach seems to underly a recent appeal for assistance in developing a charter for compassion.

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From faith to reason

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Ayaan Hirsi Ali described her journey from faith the reason at the recent AAI Convention. The video (see below) of her talk is well worth watching. Hirsi Ali is a Somalian who claimed political asylum in The Netherlands to avoid an arranged marriage. Her work with refugees and public comments on the violence against of women in the Dutch Muslim community (as well as the eventual rejection of her religion) led to death threats. With film-maker Theo Van Gogh she produced a short film Submission describing the plight of women under Islam. In November 2004 van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, an Islamic extremist. A note, attached to van Gogh’s body with a knife, contained a further threat to Hirsi Ali’s life. The Dutch government took her in to hiding, moved her to the US and provided body guards for her protection. Early this month Ayaan Hirsi Ali returned to the Netherlands, where she remains in hiding, because the Dutch government is no longer prepared to finance her protection in a foreign country.

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